Trade unionists to stage protest against government's public finance reform

12-09-2003

The government-proposed package of public finance reforms is in the focus of attention again. While economists and businessmen say the reforms are not radical enough and will do little to boost the economy, trade unionists say the measures will affect the country's poorest. And that's why members of the country's two largest trade union associations will converge on Prague on Saturday to stage a massive protest against the reforms.

Hundreds of buses and special trains are ready to take trade unionists from around the country to the Czech capital on Saturday. Around noon, they will march through the centre of Prague, past the Government office and finally gather in Palach Square in Prague's Old Town. The head of the Czech and Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions Milan Stech explains why they decided to stage the protest.

"The main reason of our protest is disagreement with the government over the public finance reforms. The reforms have been in preparation for around a year. From the start we commented on it and unfortunately most of our objections were not considered in the final version. And so now, while the reforms are being discussed in the lower house of parliament, we decided to demonstrate to demand support for our amendments."

Trade union leaders will meet Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and other government ministers on Tuesday. The head of the Czech and Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions Milan Stech says he does not expect any changes in the government's attitude at Tuesday's meeting, but he would still like to see the public finance reforms amended.

"I wish the reforms would be amended. They are unbalanced and, eventually, they will affect those who did not cause the current problems of our economy, that is ordinary citizens, public sector employees, pensioners and families with children. And those involved in the shadow economy will be free to move like predators. So I think the reforms should also include the fight against the shadow economy and some of the anti-social effects that the measures are bound to cause should be toned down."

12-09-2003